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Are Freightways Limited's (NZSE:FRE) Fundamentals Good Enough to Warrant Buying Given The Stock's Recent Weakness?

With its stock down 7.0% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard Freightways (NZSE:FRE). But if you pay close attention, you might find that its key financial indicators look quite decent, which could mean that the stock could potentially rise in the long-term given how markets usually reward more resilient long-term fundamentals. In this article, we decided to focus on Freightways' ROE.

ROE or return on equity is a useful tool to assess how effectively a company can generate returns on the investment it received from its shareholders. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.

View our latest analysis for Freightways

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

Return on equity can be calculated by using the formula:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Freightways is:

20% = NZ$70m ÷ NZ$357m (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2022).

The 'return' is the yearly profit. So, this means that for every NZ$1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of NZ$0.20.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. Depending on how much of these profits the company reinvests or "retains", and how effectively it does so, we are then able to assess a company’s earnings growth potential. Assuming everything else remains unchanged, the higher the ROE and profit retention, the higher the growth rate of a company compared to companies that don't necessarily bear these characteristics.

Freightways' Earnings Growth And 20% ROE

To start with, Freightways' ROE looks acceptable. Further, the company's ROE is similar to the industry average of 20%. Given the circumstances, we can't help but wonder why Freightways saw little to no growth in the past five years. Based on this, we feel that there might be other reasons which haven't been discussed so far in this article that could be hampering the company's growth. Such as, the company pays out a huge portion of its earnings as dividends, or is faced with competitive pressures.

We then compared Freightways' net income growth with the industry and found that the average industry growth rate was 22% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if Freightways is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is Freightways Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

The high three-year median payout ratio of 80% (meaning, the company retains only 20% of profits) for Freightways suggests that the company's earnings growth was miniscule as a result of paying out a majority of its earnings.

Moreover, Freightways has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more suggesting that management must have perceived that the shareholders prefer dividends over earnings growth. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company over the next three years is expected to be approximately 77%. Regardless, the future ROE for Freightways is predicted to rise to 29% despite there being not much change expected in its payout ratio.

Conclusion

Overall, we feel that Freightways certainly does have some positive factors to consider. However, while the company does have a high ROE, its earnings growth number is quite disappointing. This can be blamed on the fact that it reinvests only a small portion of its profits and pays out the rest as dividends. That being so, the latest industry analyst forecasts show that the analysts are expecting to see a huge improvement in the company's earnings growth rate. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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